Chemical weapons in Britain and Syria

Everyone believes the Russians.  If they say they had nothing to do with the Skripal poisoning, we believe them.  If they say they have nothing to do with the dropping of chemical weapons on Syrian civilians we believe them, of course.  But, the British say that only Russia, had the toxic nerve agent, the means and the reasons for trying to assassinate the Skripals.  And everybody else believes them, although the Russians deny it. Specifically the British agency concluded that the highest concentration of said agent was on the outside door knob of the Skripal’s house.

People are dying in Syria again from the use of chemical weapons that are against international law, and the Syrian Government of Pres. Assad says they had nothing to do with this, they don’t have chemical weapons and they didn’t use them.  And Russia vehemently denies that Assad could have used these weapons and blames some unnamed outside power for their use (Israel, the US?).

But, Pres. Trump has tweeted that the US will respond with missiles at some time in the future against Syria for the continued use of chemical weapons.  He did this once before, in 2017 he obliterated a Syrian airfield with 60 cruise missiles for a previous attack using chemical weapons, but obviously it didn’t deter the Syrians and their Russian allies, and the airfield was back in operation in a day.  So not much of a deterrent.

Pres. Putin must be feeling pretty smug, apart from the expulsion of a few Russian diplomats, he has warned that any attack on Syria that involves Russian facilities or personnel, will bring a swift Russian response.  The prospect of a US-Russian military clash over Syria could give even Pres. Trump pause.  The question is what can or will Trump do now, and will his main allies, the British and French support him.

There must be feverish planning in the Pentagon over what targets and facilities are legitimate and where there are no Russians.  There are at least three known potential chemical weapons plants in Syria.  Of course, Assad has moved all his planes and other movable weapons to Russian facilities in the expectation that they will be immune from any strike.  So the effect will be minimal.

Nevertheless, the feeling is that Putin has crossed a line, with the personal use of nerve agents in Britain, not for the first time, and the widespread use of chemical weapons by his ally in Syria, which could not occur without his approval, he has gone too far.  Trump has put his credibility on the line and something has to be done in Syria before Putin gets too ambitious and starts to expand Russia’s sphere of influence.  Most commentators expect a strike in the near future.  It may be surgical, it may avoid Russian facilities, but it must be bigger and better this time to deter Assad and his supporters

 

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Yom Hashoah (Israel Holocaust Remembrance Day)

Being a Jew means being eternally vigilant.  In Europe it is astonishing how many groups, tribes and nations took the opportunity during WWII to turn on their Jewish neighbors and kill them, usually for money (and we were called money grubbing).  Here is a short list: Germans, Poles, Lithuanians, Estonians, Latvians, Ukrainians, Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians, Dutch, Belgians, French, Italians, Greeks, Norwegians, Swedes, Croats, Bosnians (Muslims), and so on.  If you are a member of any one of these groups you owe a debt to humanity and to the Jewish people in particular.

The only peoples on record that did anything to protect their Jewish citizens were the Danes (who ferried them across to neutral Sweden), Bulgarians, and Albanians (who are Muslims).  The Swedes were supposedly neutral, but cooperated with the Nazis, selling them iron ore and safe-guarding their stolen gold.  Switzerland was neutral, but readily returned Jews who managed to desperately cross the border into their territory.  The Italians protected some of their Jews and the Spanish also, even though Franco was allied with Germany and similarly with the Finns.  Although many Russians were anti-Semitic, the Red Army included many Jewish soldiers and they were very helpful to the starving decimated Jews as they defeated the German Army (Wehrmacht).

And so far I have not mentioned the Arabs and the Muslims in general, who are anti-Semitic from Mohammed and the Koran, apart from European influence.  It’s not a  pretty picture,  and as many reports attest, its getting worse again.  The Turks attack the Kurds, but there are no liberal-leftist demonstrations in the West, the Burmese attack the Rohingya, but ditto.  But, the Palestinians attack Israel and there are demonstrations against – Israel.  Yes, the only safe place for Jews, notwithstanding all this animosity, is Israel.

Today is Yom Hashoah in Israel, Holocaust Remembrance Day.  I went to Netanya on Tues to hear my friend Eddie Bielawski talk about how he and his family of 10 survived for 3 years in hiding in (1941-4) in Poland.  The story is told in the book he wrote and I edited entitled “Invisible Jews: surviving the Holocaust in Poland.”  One anecdote tells it all, he and his mother were travelling by train from Poland to Austria after the War.  Polish police got on the train to check everyone’s papers.  Seven people were identified as Jews.  They were taken off the train and shot.  Even as a child he knew not to draw attention to himself.

Six million Jews were murdered, most in very horrific ways.   They were part of the overall ca. 50 million people murdered during WWII.  Most of them were innocent civilians.  But, the toll for the Jewish people was most terrible.  Some anti-Semites argue that we make too much of the Holocaust.  I argue that we do not make enough of it.  They want to forget it, or even deny it.  We must never forget or diminish the historic impact of the most terrible crime in history.

What’s in a Name?

OK, here’s a quiz: Is “Palestine” an Arabic name?  The answer is definitely NO!!!  The name Palestine comes from the Philistines who were a sea-faring tribe of Greek origin who settled along the coast of the Holy Land (Israel) in Biblical times and who no longer exist.  The Greeks called their area “Philistia” and the Romans called the area “Syria Palestina.”  In the Arab and Turkish empires, the area was simply part of Southern Syria and in fact the modern Syrians claimed it, as well as Lebanon and Jordan. The British after WWI Anglicized the name to Palestine, rather than give the area its original Judaic name, Israel.   The Arabs had nothing whatsoever to do with the origin of Palestine, the Arabs are not mentioned in the Bible and came, of course, from Arabia in the 7th century, conquering Jerusalem in 639 ce.  Also, there is no “P” sound in Arabic, so they call the area “Falastin,

Where does the name “Jew” come from?  It originates from the tribe of Judah that formed the southern Kingdom of Judah from 922 bce, that continued in existence after the northern Kingdom of Israel (containing 10 tribes) was destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 bce.  The Kingdom of Judah was then destroyed and exiled by the Babylonians in 586 bce.  The name Jew stuck to all descendants of these tribes, which eventually returned to the Land some 50 years later led by the Prophet Ezra.

So if you do a little calculation, the Jews had sovereignty in the Land of Israel some (922+639=) 1,561 years before the Arabs even arrived on the scene.  Furthermore, for them the Land of Israel was a minor province, it was never a separate Arab State with sovereignty, there was certainly never a Palestine State throughout history.  But, some good liberals don’t like historical arguments, especially those that stretch back as far as the Bible.  However, they are quite happy to use a historical argument when it suits them, when they say that the Palestinians (meaning the Arabs) were here before the Jews (that is the modern Jews).  So a historical argument is good for them, but unacceptable for the other side, even though it precedes their own historical viewpoint.

But, even beyond that, the Balfour Declaration of 1917 of the British Government, and the Mandate given to the British Govt. by the League of Nations (the predecessor of the UN) in 1922 to establish a Homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine, never mentions an Arab State in the same area.  The Arabs were given Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Arabia (eventually Saudi Arabia).  You’d think they would be satisfied with that (not to mention all of North Africa, Yemen etc.).  But, no, these Arab imperialists want everything.  Too bad, they can’t have what’s not theirs.

The Syrian Swamp

It is understandable that Pres. Trump, not known for his carefully considered opinions, said a few days ago that he wants US troops out of Syria, since they have now defeated IS.  But, others with more expertise might argue otherwise.  I am sure his new security adviser John Bolton would be shocked to have Trump do the same thing as Obama.  Tell the enemy that you are leaving soon and then do it.  That would be a another disaster.

Yes, Syria is a swamp, a veritable imbroglio, a total disaster.  At least ca. 600,000 Syrians have been killed and about 5 million people displaced during the vicious civil war over the past 8 years, during which the Assad regime, bolstered by Iran and Russia, has fought back against the insurgents and has gradually recaptured most of Syrian territory.  It’s pointless crying over spilt milk, but Obama basically left the field of battle to America’s enemies and they have taken advantage of the vacuum.  Whereas Obama wanted to get rid of Assad, and railed against his use of chemical weapons (remember his red line) he nevertheless did nothing effective to pursue this objective.  It would be weird if now Trump, who supposedly wants to make America great again and has a greatly enhanced military, made the same mistake.

Russia is an enemy of the US, but Russia’s defense budget is one tenth that of the US, and the Russian military is stretched thin, fighting in both Eastern Ukraine and Syria, as well as keeping his own people under control.  Also, Iran is a paper tiger, threatening to take over the Middle East, but capable of doing so only if there is no effective opposition.  It is in this respect that one must view yesterday’s attack on the T4 airfield in central Syria that destroyed armaments and killed some people, at least some Iranians among them.  Although Syria at first blamed the US for the raid, which denied it, now they have blamed Israel.  Israel has not officially commented, but is on record as not allowing the Iranians to establish a military foothold in Syria, a platform from which to attack Israel.

I would be very surprised it Bolton and ultimately Trump would not do something to both support Israel’s action and decided to keep US troops in the region to deter both Russia and Iran from benefiting from their support for Syria.  Syria itself is a shadow of its former self.  It poses no threat to Israel, but the Iranians do.  Where the Russians stand in this is unclear, they support Assad, but not necessarily Iran.  They also understand Israel’s determination to prevent Iran making Syria a platform for its strategy in the region.  The situation is fluid, many people have died, and probably many more will die before any kind of stability is restored.

The Gaza Border War Goes On

There is no doubt that the rioting of thousands along the Gaza border with Israel is newsworthy.  But, let’s have a sense of proportions.   This is obviously a stratagem to gain media attention and take attention away from the celebration of Israel’s 70th anniversary of independence.
As far as the numbers killed and injured are concerned, if you can believe the numbers put out by Hamas (terrorist organizations never lie, especially if they are Palestinian), they pale in comparison to other conflicts going on in the region.  In Afrin, the Kurdish stronghold in northern Syria, the Turkish forces reportedly killed 258 in one day.  In eastern Ghouta the Syrian Army has killed hundreds of civilians during their current advance, and in Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Afghanistan the casualty figures are vastly greater.
But, I understand why the focus on the Israel-Palestinian dispute gets so much more media attention, after all who cares if its Arabs killing Arabs.  But, the IDF terms of engagement are quite clear, no one gets shot unless they actually either approach the border or are throwing dangerous missiles or shooting over the border at IDF troops.  The crowds have been warned and so has Hamas that under those circumstances the IDF will use live fire to prevent any breaches of the border.
The excuse for the demonstrations and attacks on the border is the supposed desire for the Arabs to return to their homes.  But, how many of those rioting even know where their homes were after 70 years.  It’s as if they can never accept that they lost!  Imagine if all wars went on forever.  Eventually it has to stop, and the fact of the defeat must be accepted.  As it is the so-called Nakba or catastrophe only stirs them on to more violence and terrorism. This is what happens when a culture of shame is allowed to wallow in its misery and is funded and supported by evil dictatorships such as Iran and naieve Western liberals.

Netanyahu reverses migrant policy

After agreeing with the UN Commission for Human Rights to expel ca. 15,000 illegal African migrants to three Western countries (Germany, UK and Canada) and allow a further 15,000 to stay legally in Israel, PM Netanyahu reversed his agreement in 24 hrs.  When news of the agreement broke he was immediately attacked by the right wing of his own Likud party and was forced to back down by the residents of south Tel Aviv that has been overrun by tens of thousands of illegal Africans.  He had promised them that he would solve their problem by repatriating the migrants to a third country, but they would not accept this decision to allow about half of them to stay.  Also, the countries involved claimed that they had not been party to this agreement.  So whatever the agreement was, it is now defunct.

Currently Israel has no coherent policy to deal with the 30-50,000 illegal migrants in the country.  Some are certainly valid asylum seekers, but the vast majority are economic migrants who do not have a justifiable reason to be allowed to stay.  However, getting rid of them is difficult,  Repatriating most of them to their original countries has proved impossible.  Most come from Eritrea, Sudan, Kenya and Nigeria.  But, these countries don’t want to take them back.  A deal with Rwanda to take them worked for a while until it became public and Rwanda withdrew.

There are two views in Israel, the right say that these are illegal immigrants and should be removed.  The left argue that the Jews are a people of migration and should be sympathetic to the plight of these poor Africans.  But, this is mainly a religious argument, based largely on the Exodus narrative, the kind of argument that the left usually eschews.  However, the majority want them gone, much as the Americans don’t want all the Mexican and Spanish-speaking immigrants, and Britain doesn’t want all the Syrians and other Arabs.  Netanyahu must get real and finally deal with this problem.

 

Saudi Prince Recognizes Israeli Right to a State

Saudi Prince Salman bin Mohammed, the heir to the throne of Saudi Arabia, said in an interview in the Atlantic magazine while touring the US, that every people is entitled to have its own state, including the Israeli people  This is certainly not official recognition of the State of Israel, but it is a harbinger of what may be to come.

Since being named heir, Prince Salman has embarked on a course as a reformer in Saudi Arabia.  Important reforms have been the introduction of women’s right to drive cars, allowing women to travel without their husband’s permission, and the forced restitution of funds to the State by high-ranking Saudi officials who have been defrauding the State thru their official positions.  Salman has let it be known that he intends to modernize the Kingdom.  One of the main reasons for this initiative is the low price of oil and the consequent need for Saudi Arabia to attract foreign investment.

Many people think that Saudi Arabia is an ancient State, but in fact it was only founded in 1932, when the army of Ibn Saud, supported by the very conservative Muslim Wahhabi sect, overthrew the traditional Hashemite rulers of  Mecca and Medina.  Since then it has maintained its conservative Salafi version of Sunni Islam, and has abjured any and all incursions of Western culture into its Kingdom.  This has included strict limitations on the rights of women and the exclusion of Christian and Western influences.

However, since the first Gulf War, when the Saudis allowed US forces onto its territory in order to expel the Iraqi forces of Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, and the growing menace of Iranian power in the Gulf region, the Saudis have changed their attitudes.  They realize that their armed forces, notwithstanding the expenditure of huge sums of money in buying arms, is no match for Iran.  They fear the Iranian Shia revolutionary doctrine that is their worst traditional enemy.  They have also been shocked by the retraction of US power in the region by Pres. Obama, and perhaps also by Pres. Trump, who does not want to be involved in any Middle East Wars (apart from defeating the Islamic State forces).  This has led them to re-evaluate their situation.

In fact they have found that the only effective power in the region that has a similar view to them and is prepared to confront Iran, is Israel.  During the opposition to the Iran nuclear deal in Washington under Obama, Israel and the Saudis were essentially on the same page.  But, while Israel was openly lobbying Congress (remember PM Netanyahu’s controversial address to Congress), the Saudis were carrying out soft diplomacy.  Now Prince Salman as been in Washington meeting Pres Trump and lobbying Congress and is now on a tour of the US where he has met with Jewish leaders and is currently visiting the West coast.

In his comment about national rights, Salman did mention the Israelis and the Palestinians.  How that would affect the Saudi attitude towards recognition of Israel remains to be seen.  But, it is known that the Saudis are fed up with the lack of progress in negotiations and the attitude of Pres. Abbas of the PA, and the extremism of the terrorist Hamas in Gaza.  How this will play out is uncertain, but look to see a major change in the region if or when Salman becomes King and he will change Saudi Arabia’s policies completely.